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Executive MBA vs. MS: Which is better for middle-aged career changers?

Bill R.

I am a two years away from retirement from active duty from the U.S. Army after 22 years of service. What would your recommendation be as to proceed with the MS before retirement and then pursue an EMBA or full-time MBA after retirement?


My hunch is that you probably don’t need multiple degrees … that an online MS in Finance might in and of itself be sufficient, or that pursuing an Executive MBA after you retire might be the way to go (but not necessarily both).

That being said, the option of pairing an online degree with an immersive MBA program might work well if what you want from the online degree is purely technical knowledge and domain expertise, and what you hope to gain from the in-person EMBA is an experience of spending time with your peers, faculty members, with alumni, and employers, in order to have that experience itself help shape your career path and decisions after school. If it’s financially feasible, and not too intensive a time commitment, the combination of degrees might work.

And, given your level of experience, I think a full-time MBA program might feel a bit too much like “college all over again”. Your peer group is more than likely to be found among the mid-career professionals and executives who enroll in an executive MBA program, and that route will probably feel the most enriching and fun to you than being immersed in a context in which most of your fellow classmates are ~4-6 years out of college.

[Check out Our Ranking of the Best Executive MBA Programs]